About the artist

A headshot of graphic designer Nigel French

This week we meet graphic designer and artist Nigel French. Nigel spent a large period of his life in the US and is now based in Lewes, East Sussex, where he works from home. He does stuff on a Mac; most of it relates, in some way or other to graphic design. As well as his own image work, Nigel trains people in design software (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom) and also teaches graphic design. Aside from teaching face to face, he writes about design software and techniques and creates online tutorials for LinkedIn Learning. Whenever he can, he travels to take photos which are the basis for his artwork.

What artistic styles are you particularly drawn to?

I’ve always been attracted to minimalist styles: Bauhaus, De Stijl, Swiss graphic design. When I started out, to my untrained eye they looked easy; it wasn’t until I tried to emulate them that I realised it was hard to be so simple but by then I was hooked. I also love vintage American signage—when I rule the world modern vinyl signage will be outlawed.

What inspires you?

A day out at the museumTate Modern and the Imperial War Museum are my favourites.
A walk by the river—I live close to the Ouse in Lewes.
A stirring biopic—I recently saw First Man, which was excellent.
Great music—right now I’m loving the band Public Service Broadcasting

Name three artists who inspire you.

Tony Ray Jones, John Heartfield, David Bowie

How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?

My technique has improved (through repetition), and I’m older and wiser with more experience to draw from, which hopefully shows.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?

Learn how to draw (I never really did).

What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?

A camera, a Mac and a fancy inkjet printer.

Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?

I love Adobe products: teaching them has forced me to leave my comfort zone and learn features that I otherwise would have ignored, some of which I now use regularly.

Do you use images from stock sites as well as your own photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?

Yes, sometimes, but only in a supporting role. I’m agnostic about the site—it all depends on the image.

What is your artistic motivation?

To create work that I enjoy, to feel that I’m growing as an artist, and to feel proud of the work once it’s finished.

Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?

A poster image of American riot police with the caption 'San Francisco, One Neat City.

I’ll probably never take a better picture than this (left), although it’s not representative of the kind of work I do. I was living in San Francisco and it was an exciting period. I made a poster featuring the image and it was quite popular locally. For several years it was hanging in a local dive bar, which gave me a thrill every time I saw it.

And finally, do you find that digital art is often dismissed as a valid art form?

Yes, there is still the perception by many that “Photoshop did it.” But I think that’s changing as digital tools become commonplace. Anyone who’s used design software for more than five minutes knows there’s more to it than just pressing a button to get the results you want.

Where to find Nigel’s work online



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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and images with us, Nigel!